Osso buco is the perfect dish to feed a crowd. It is one of those dishes that can simmer away happily unattended for hours and fills your kitchen with delicious smells.

My way of making osso buco is a little more involved, but I think the extra steps of marinating the meat first and reducing the sauce are well worth is. The splash of balsamic vinegar at the end turns this dish from something delicious into something really extraordinary that will have your guests scraping their plates and even picking up the bones to graw off every last morsel of veal.
Serves 4-6

Photo: Mogens Engelund, Wikipedia


6 slices of veal shanks – cut approximately 3 inches thick crosswise through the bone
a small handful of porcini or other dried mushrooms
300 mls boiling water
4 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
25 grams of flour
4 small carrots, peeled and cut into fine dice
3 stalks of celery, cut into fine dice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
8 sage leaves, finely chopped
needles from one stalk of rosemary, finely chopped
a small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
half a bottle of white wine
approximately 5 tinned plum tomatoes
450 mls veal, beef or chicken stock (ideally homemade)
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves but left unpeeled
1-2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar


1 large clove of garlic, minced
6 sage leaves, finely chopped
needles from one stalk of rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a splash of olive oil


Zest of a lemon (or of half a lemon and half an orange)
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
a large handful of parsley, finely chopped
a small handful of toasted pine nuts


Rinse your veal shanks and dry well with paper towels and place them in a shallow baking dish. Combine the marinade ingredients and stir well, then pour it over the veal shanks and rub it well into the meat. Cover the meat with cling film and place it in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

When you are ready to start cooking, remove the meat from the fridge and place the flour on a shallow plate. Preheat your oven to 150C and place the dried mushrooms in a heatproof boil, cover them with the boiling water and set aside to soak.

Heat the oil up in a wide frying pan on medium-high heat until smoking and dip each veal shank into the flour on both sides, tapping it well to remove any excess so that it has just a light dusting of flour. Place the veal shanks in the hot pan and cook them for 4-5 minutes per side or until each side is a nice golden brown, adding a splash more oil if the pan becomes too dry. Do this in batches if necessary so that you don’t overcrowd the pan which will steam the meat rather than brown it properly.

Remove the shanks and place them in a wide, shallow casserole dish or baking dish. Add a splash more oil and add the vegetables, garlic and herbs. Saute the mixture for 6-8 minutes or until the vegetables have started to become golden and sticky. Pour in the wine and bring to a simmer, then cook for 4-5 minutes or until the wine is reduced by two thirds. Add the tomatoes and crush well with the side of a spoon to break them up, then add the mushrooms and their soaking liquid plus the stock and bring the mixture to a boil.

Scatter the unpeeled garlic cloves around the veal shanks and pour the wine-stock-tomato mixture over the meat so that the meat is nearly completely submerged. Place the veal in the oven for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours or until the meat is very tender and falls off the bone with the gentlest tug. Turn the shanks over every 30-45 minutes while they are in the oven to ensure that the surfaces that poke out of the liquid get remoistened and the shanks cook evenly.

When the meat is done, remove the shanks to a plate, cover them with foil and place them in a low oven to stay warm. Tip the cooking liquid into a wide saucepan and bring to a vigorous simmer. Continue to simmer the sauce for approximately 10 minutes or until the sauce is very thick and you can drag a spoon across the centre of the pan and see the bottom for several seconds before the sauce ‘reconnects’, then switch off and allow to cool slightly.

While the sauce is reducing, make the gremolata by combining the parsley, garlic and citrus zests. Stir in the toasted pine nuts.Taste the sauce and add the balsamic vinegar. Taste again, adding a little more if desired and season with salt and pepper.

To serve the osso buco, spoon a quantity of polenta, saffron risotto or mashed potatoes onto a wide plate. Place one veal shank on top and spoon over a generous quantity of the sauce including a few of the garlic cloves. Add a heaping tablespoon of the gremolata overtop and serve immediately.